Yes, Turkiye will be represented at the 3rd Future Agro Challenge Global Championships that will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from March 12–15, 2017. Nilüfer Erdin Omur won the national award in January this year and will compete at the Global Agripreneurs Summit 2017, a four-day event that will gather top innovators in Food, AgTech and Agriculture. The local pre-selection was organized with the help of Kök Projekt, Endeavor Turkiye and Stage-Co. Big thanks to Erhun Alptekin who introduced us to her so she was able to participate. The moment we launched the call for the national award as a pre-selection, we were not overwhelmed by people who liked to pitch. Although food is one of the biggest export products, new and innovative startups are still rare seen the size if the sector and the country. Looking outside of the borders of the homeland is even more rare. Pity. We have the talent and the resources but we lack the attitude I guess.
So Muhr won, and personally I think it is a good choice but who is Nilüfer and what does Muhr represent? I set up a skype with her and asked. While listening we still learn most.
Nilüfer was born and raised in Istanbul and is by studies and profession a graphic designer. As her life took a turn after the birth of her son, she is now writing a doctorate on Wildlife Sciences and Agriculture Engineering at Abant İzzet Baysal University. Today she is all into agriculture, from Istanbul and with parents who were not into agriculture either. She is 40 years old today, married and 1 son, and he is the turning point I understood. She wondered, while starting to raise her son, what to feed him. No wonder she wants the best for him and that is also the point where she starts to work in understanding the food cycle.
As a kid she already collected natural seeds and growing them. She decided with her husband to buy a house with land in Çanakkale. This town is known for the Battle of Çanakkale and the Trojan Horse, but also for good soil. This is now 7 years ago and today this project became a fulltime job while her husband still works in Istanbul. She started with beekeeping but maybe more important she started the research on how to create a natural and sustainable biotope so the bees could stay in 1 place with a natural wildlife based on original plants. Her adviser is Tanfer Dinler, he is an Agriculture Engineer and Risk Manager. While doing the research, Nilüfer and her husband, bought extra land in 2014 and the production of honey kicked off, Muhr was born. The name Murh is derived from Mühür, which means stamp and has Persian roots. Nilüfer’s knowledge of graphic design came in handy as she designed the whole branding and a very nice website: www.muhr.com.tr. Next to honey also the production of olives started. All products can be purchased from her website and today the project is economically viable.
The whole project is bootstrapped and the result of hard work and dedication. What is important next to the production, is the search of Nilüfer to continue to detect natural seeds and the research on how to create a program around the project so it can be implemented anywhere. It is quite unique that a project is viable and in the meantime also stays focused on the research. This is also part of her doctorate that she hopes to publish in 2018. Here also you see a growing interest in the producer to consumer movement combined with the knowledge that you, as a consumer, also knows and understands the origin of what you eat. In Turkiye we still buy quite a lot in bulk and you have no idea what is the origin, nor if pesticides were used etc. Muhr shows that a holistic approach does not only pay off, but is also more healthy and sustainable. The search for natural seeds and creating a production environment where beekeeping is very important as a reproducible platform is a great approach in my opinion. In the meantime she also collaborates with universities like Abant İzzet Baysal University. This way the scientific side can be illustrated and can help in making the platform more accepted. One of the studies is to examine the nectar in the honey, from which plants they derive and creating a timeline to understand the dry seasons.
Muhr is a very challenging project and the beauty is that Nilüfer wants to grow this into a repeatable platform. Inşallah.
There is no lack of passion neither. As soon as Nilüfer understood she could go to South Africa as the representative of Turkiye she bought her tickets and arranged her travel before the search for sponsors was even started. And you can help here from where ever you live. Between March 1st and March 10th you can like her video which will be published on the Facebook page of Future Agro Challenge. This is the first part of the international competition. She will be in South Africa between the 10th and the 15th of March. Let’s cross fingers and start by liking her video. We keep you informed what that page is.
Nilüfer Erdin Omur: firstname.lastname@example.org
Semi Hakim: email@example.com
Alev Ertem : firstname.lastname@example.org